Caption: Rangsiman Rome (left) and Sira Jenjaka (right) in a parliamentary committee meeting.

Opposition MP to call President of Supreme Court to hearing

MP Rangsiman Rome of the Move Forward party is working to have a parliamentary committee call President of the Supreme Court Methinee Chalothorn to a hearing over the illegitimate detention of activists.

The attempt to call Methinee was made after claims that during a regular meeting of Supreme Court judges, she said that pro-democracy activists have been denied bail because someone outside ordered it.

Rangsiman said after a meeting on Thursday 1 April that the Parliamentary Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights has not yet decided whether to invite Methinee to a hearing due to a lack of quorum. Usually meetings are held on Wednesdays, but this time Sira Jenjaka, a government MP and the chair of the Committee, decided to hold it on Thursday.

During the meeting, concern was raised whether the Committee has the legal power to issue this invitation. So the Committee is to consult with the parliamentary legal service over the legality of the invitation and over obtaining of the minutes of the Supreme Court meeting.

According to Sira, the response from the legal service should come before the next meeting on Wednesday 7 April. Meanwhile, Rangsiman said in public that he is confident that the committee's authority does not violate the constitution. However, some government MPs contested his claim.

According to a claim made by political exiles and senior human rights activists, a judge asked Methinee during the meeting why the pro-democracy activists have been denied bail despite the impossibility of fleeing or tampering with the evidence. She said that someone outside ordered it.

The judge replied that if the highest official in the Court of Justice could say that, then the Court of Justice will soon no longer exist. And if she still let someone outside order the courts around, then she should sit before a disciplinary committee over the appropriateness of being the President of the Supreme Court.

After the claim spread on social media, the spokesperson of the Court of Justice published a press release denying the claim and that the only agenda in the meeting was about selecting the selection committee for the Commissioners of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). 

While the possibility of calling Methinee to a parliamentary hearing is debated, many Thai political activists still remain in jail despite unproven accusations. In prison, Parit Chiwarak has already been on hunger strike for 20 days to protest the denial of bail. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul has also done the same for 6 days.

Meanwhile, political activist Piyarat Chongthep was released after bail was approved with a security of 45,000 baht. However, he was released only to be immediately re-arrested and detained at Yang Talad Police Station, Kalasin Province, on another lèse-majesté charge. This detention appears to be illegal since he has already acknowledged the new charge.

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